May 1, 2017
50 pounds. That’s how much my bag weighed this morning. That’s waay too much!
There was a wind advisory for today and the gusts were getting up to around 50 mph. I had hiked out some fresh fruit for today and it wasn’t too long before I needed to stop for a snack and a short rest. I saw a tree right next to the trail that had recently been struck by lightning and there were human-sized splinters of wood all around. Mother Nature is beautiful but has a way of reminding us how powerful and deadly She can also be. The skies darkened and the wind was blowing dangerously hard as we climbed up the mountain, luckily, it only sprinkled a bit and we climbed down fast enough to avoid getting blown off the top. I was nervously looking up at the tree tops for falling branches the entire time, though.
There were some nice little waterfalls and some pretty fun rock “climbing” parts of the trail before it went into much tamer land. We paralleled the Virginia Creeper trail for many miles and it was a little annoying hiking up and down on the trail only to look over and see a nice, flat, paved trail going to the exact same places. The two trails even merged for a bit. It was around there that we saw a dozen black swallowtail butterflies all congregating together. It was neat to see so many dancing around through the air and on the ground.
We hiked on through the day, climbing ever-upwards until we were once again being buffeted by the wind. It actually got so bad on Whitetop Mountain that we were being blown sideways from the wind hitting the sides of our packs. we came across Cruiser and Ghost (a couple of hikers we tend to leapfrog) camped out just past Whitetop Mtn Road but went a little further to try and get away from the wind a bit and to be closer to a water source (though we had to put some effort into turning it into a functional source (and even then, there were termites everywhere!)). It wasn’t too long after setting up that AT-AT caught up to us but had to find somewhere else to camp as there were no flat spots left around us. He had a late start out of Damascus (he also stayed at Crazy Larry’s) but those giant legs of his are great for covering distance.
Tomorrow, we enter Graceland Highlands where there are wild ponies running around. If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t want to be your friend. Oh! I also had a mouse hop into my tent tonight to try and steal a peanut butter M&M. I went ahead and let him have one before closing up my door.